A Dog of Flanders: A Christmas Story
is a young adult book written by the Victorian English author Marie Louise de la Ramée (aka "Ouida"). It's a sentimental animal fable, part of her lifelong campaign to draw attention to the problem of cruelty to dogs. It's set in Flanders where dogs are routinely worked to death. The hero of the story, a peasant boy named Nello, saves an old dog Patrsche from such a fate. When Nello falls impossibly in love outside his class with the millers daughter, Alois, his heart is broken when she is denied to him by her cruel father. Nello and Patrsche then run out into a snowstorm and freeze to death in the Cathedral of Antwerp, on Christmas Eve (thus the "Christmas Story"). It is only discovered too late that Nello was a "genius" at drawing and could have been famous.
I found the story pleasant and emotionally moving. It can be overly sentimental in that Victorian way, and has some Romantic Nationalism, but the story is good and leaves one with a positive feeling in the end. Although Ouida wrote over 40 novels and was very popular in her time, she is hardly read anymore, this childrens books now appears to be the most popular of her works. But in her time her most famous work was Under Two Flags
(1867), which was still being published and read in the 20th century, including 4 different movie adaptations. Likewise A Dog of Flanders
seems to have inspired at least 7 movies, as recently as 1999. It also sells well in Japan.
See also the book which has a lot of original artwork: A Dog of Flanders: A Christmas Story
Roger Melin's LibriVox reading is very good and appropriate for the story, it's at a professional level. My only complaint is I wish Roger would not (try to) raise the pitch of his baritone voice to sound like a woman or little boy when reading dialogue :)
[STB, 12-18-09, 287]